An inspiration for us all

iron manOn 19th October 2014 my husband, 43 year old Giles, completed his first ever half iron man. Most of us know this as a fairly grueling event – a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride followed by a 21km run. Individually each stage could be the centre piece of a fairly hectic Sunday morning workout – BUT strung together its an event taking the average finisher around 6 hours, causes many to either drop out or suffer the worst cramps imaginable, gives many shocking diarrea, results in lasting sun burn ….. the list of horror stories goes on. Why, I hear you say, would you do this when you could be at the beach!

Well – I am not sure how to answer that last question but if you could have been at the finish when Giles, surprising himself with a time of 5.5 hours, crossed the line into the arms of his (usually) laid back training partner who promptly hugged him with tears in his eyes OR if you could have been there when the final of four training partners crossed the line only 2 minutes before the cut off point to be wrapped in the iron man towel of success by the team, then maybe you may have had just a little insight into the WHY of attempting such strange events.

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And for those of us watching (a support crew of 11 including 3 Mums and 8 kids) it was an amazing day. At 5am we watched them stuff protein shakes, bananas and porridge down themselves, at 7.30am we glimpsed the sun rise over the deep water wave start, around 8.30am my 9 year old son shouted ‘Well Done Mate’ to each one of the 600 cyclists passing our vantage spot, by 11.30am we were running along side the exhausted looking runners cheering them on and then we had the joy and emotion of the finish for Giles and his mate around 1pm. We were still there an hour later dragging ourselves around a very hot course cheering on the final stragglers including our mate, and final member of the training crew, who, despite major leg cramps,  was still determined to finish the longest sporting event of his life.

Giles and I started this journey 6 months ago when, after completing a 600km charity bike ride in 4 days we were looking for inspiration to take us to our next sporting goal. We found it in a new way of eating – better nutrition to help us find additional energy, weightloss and better performance for our plus 40 year old muscles! So, with a way to reduce our weight and gain stronger muscle we encouraged Giles to lose 11kg and to find a new sporting goal. The idea of the half iron man was born in June – and I watched Giles struggle with a variety of calf muscle strains borne from no run training in 5 years, with the missed cycle sessions when the winter heavens opened, with the number of beers he had to forego to achieve his targeted weightloss and also his struggle with the early morning starts for the endurance swim session starting at 5am.

To say I am proud of what he achieved is an under statement. He has a clarity of vision for what he wants to achieve, he has the sense of purpose to push himself to his limits and yet he remains calm and relaxed about how he does it. I am also proud that my kids, aged 9 and 7, where there to cheer him, and I am especially proud that all four of the training gang achieved the finish. And I am now just a little bit INSPIRED.

INSPIRATION – we are ON FIRE! Giles is convinced he has an IRON MAN event within him and has already signed up for May 1st next year. and me, well, I cannot hide behind these aging knees any longer. I WILL return to triathlon and again, I have committed to an Olympic Distance next May also. We both want our kids to know that success comes from hard work, that results in a sporting arena need to be worked for and that you have to feed your body right to train and compete right. I want other women to know that they too can do it – however old, and I am inviting anyone that is interested to join in the triathlon with me on May 23rd 2015. Together we can train, eat and inspire each other to an equally enjoyable and rewarding event.

And Giles – well, he has a big task ahead – come May 1st he will be attempting the FULL IRON MAN – he knows he still has a further 5kg to lose and he also knows, that how ever hard he trained for the half, he has to do double to complete next May. BUT we know he can do it – its called INSPIRATION.

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